Final Thoughts

This is my last blog. For the last fourteen years it has been my privilege to send you a weekly devotional. I didn’t know that it would be a part of my weekly routine. When I first arrived, it was suggested that I write a little thought for the Compass and the blog. So, I did and then just kept doing it each week. It’s been meaningful for me to share my thoughts and I hope it has provided some encouragement and inspiration for your spiritual life. Although I think most people read for the cartoons! In that first Compass article I talked about the difficulty of settling into a new city. We were having trouble finding an apartment. The kids were starting school. We needed to get a vehicle. Navigating the paperwork and registration process seemed overwhelming. Language was an issue. Plus we were getting to know a new congregation.  I shared the verse from Jeremiah 32:17. In the midst of great distress in Jerusalem, Jeremiah was trying to see how the promises of God could be fulfilled. In the face of so many questions he declares, “Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.” What a comfort and strength that verse is. How important it is to keep reminding ourselves that in any situation, nothing is too hard for God. As Rhonda and I take the next step in our journey, we know God goes before us. The same is true for the congregation at Crossroads. We want to thank you for your kindness and support to us over the years as we have served in the pastoral role. It seems to have gone by so quickly. We have loved living in Basel and Crossroads has become our home and family in many ways. Thank you for the great send off you gave us this past weekend. Your thoughtfulness, prayers and gifts have all been appreciated and are so meaningful.  As we leave our time in Basel, we leave a part of ourselves here. It has been an amazing part of our story. And we are so grateful to have been a part of your story as well. 

Saying Goodbye Can Be Tough

Saying ‘goodbye’ can be tough. I’ve been thinking about some Bible stories where people had to say goodbye to one another. Moses led the children of Israel for forty years when it came time for a transition. David and Jonathan were close friends, but the situation was complicated by Jonathan’s father, King Saul. Continuing their friendship just wasn’t possible. In Acts 20 we read about Paul and the elders from Ephesus. He had spent three years teaching and working among them before going to Greece. He stopped in on his way back to Jerusalem and he knew it would be his last time with them. It was an emotional moment for them all. In our international community there are always a lot of people moving in and moving out. It’s not unusual to make good friends and then have to say goodbye after a couple of years. Relationships can grow close when we are away from family and our home community. After a while it is easy to want to protect yourself from losing good friends and so you just stop interacting as much, or perhaps caring as much. Moving on or away is part of life. Like anything else, it is important we acknowledge the impact it can have on us. It’s good to know there are some things we can do that are helpful.   Blessed are you, Israel!Who is like you, a people saved by the Lord?He is your shield and helper (Deut. 33:29) When we part with a blessing, we invite God to be with our friends and to watch over them. Saying ‘goodbye’ isn’t easy. However, as Christians we know the parting is temporary and we look forward to enjoying eternity together. Meanwhile we count our blessings for having known one another.

God’s Faithfulness Amidst Changes

After 40 years of traveling around in the desert it was time for a change in leadership. Moses would stay behind while Joshua took the children of Israel into the Promised Land. Most of the people had never known another leader and there was no doubt some anxiety and confusion. They knew that there would be challenges ahead. As Moses prepared to hand over the role to his successor he said to the people, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them (other nations), for the Lord your God goes with you, he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6) During a leadership transition there are legitimate concerns and fears.  The key concept in Scripture through times of change is ‘faithfulness’ – God’s complete faithfulness.Leaders come and go. Leaders have good and bad points. Leaders are human and subject to the laws of nature. But God doesn’t have those kinds of restrictions or weaknesses. He sees the beginning from the end. He knows how things will work out. He is always at work on behalf of his people. During this time of pastoral transition, I’m praying that you’ll have confidence and trust in God to know that he is guiding you (the congregation) through these times. Be strong and courageous. Knowing that God is faithful to his church, sets our hearts at ease. There’s a new chapter ahead and he will be leading all of us into that adventure.